Youth Parliament opens dialogue with Somali-Kenyan community
From left to right: Kenyan Minister for Northern Kenya development, Hon. Mohammed Elmi, Member of Parliament and Assistant Minister for livestock development, Hon. Dualle Aden Barre and Colin Lake, Canadian High Commission, follow proceedings at the youth parliament.
One of the youth at the parliament gives her opinion on an issue at the forum
A cross section of the youth that attended the youth parliament
A youth parliament session was recently held to open discussion among Kenya’s Muslim youth in North Eastern Kenya on the issue of their identity as Muslim Somali–Kenyans and their role in including Northern Kenya in the development of the country.
The forum was held in Garissa, a town in North-Eastern Kenya that borders Somalia, which is predominantly inhabited by the Somali-Kenyan-Muslim community.
Open Dialogue – Open Minds
In Kenya, the Somali community forms the majority of the Muslim population in the country. With the growing frustration and sense of marginalization among the Kenyan-Somali youth, it is feared that some may be becoming increasingly sympathetic with some rebel groups.
This forum provided an open space in which Muslim youth, especially those from the Somali community, could have an opportunity to meet with high ranking officials and leaders to discuss the challenges they face. The leaders pledged their support to the youth encouraging them to play an active role in nation building and to share their knowledge and express their opinion on issues and current events of likely interest to them.
Tackling the Issues
A panel of experts including government officials, members of parliament, Muslim human rights activists, Muslim scholars and youth leaders provided their insights while engaging over 100 youths.
The lively discussions, moderated by a Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance youth leader, tackled topics touching on:
- Integrating Northern Kenyan issues into the overarching Kenyan development plans;
- Human rights and security in northern Kenya;
- democratic reforms
- and looking at careers, business ideas and job opportunities beyond pastoralism among other topics
At the conclusion of the event, the youth developed recommendations on how to continue dialogue with the Government of Kenya and play a role in both the political and development agenda of their region and their country. In addition, youth pledged to continue meeting to discuss, debate and find solutions to issues that affect them.
The Canadian High Commission to Kenya was pleased to provide over CAD $3000 in funding and organizational support to the Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance to organize the session.
The forum provided an opportunity for Canada to highlight its pluralistic and multicultural nature in involving all its citizens in the development and prosperity of Canada and a model for a strong society especially in the integration of minority groups within the society.
The forum also provided an opportunity for the Canadian High Commissioner to nurture and deepen relationships with key members of Kenya’s Muslim community and the Government of Kenya.
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